Iím concerned about the way my 9-year-old son reacts when he breaks something or something goes wrong in the house. My husband overreacts to situations and has anger management issues. For example, my son was taking a shower and didnít shut the bathroom door all the way, and the smoke alarm went off. It was not the first time this happened. My son came running downstairs to find me, crying hysterically. Meanwhile my husband is yelling, ďI told you that you canít leave the bathroom door open even a little bit when you are taking a shower.Ē He did help to console him afterward.
My husband is one of those people who insists that you put things back in their place so you will know where they are next time. He obsesses about making sure that you turn out the light when you leave a room. He stresses me out at times as well because Iím always thinking Iíve got to turn the light off or Iíll hear my husband say, ďThe light is on in the bedroom; are your done in there?Ē
I canít change my husbandís behavior, but Iíd like to help my son feel less stressed and anxious when something goes wrong. Do you have any suggestions or books I should read? Iíve sought counseling in the past for me, Iím not sure if it makes sense to get my son involved at this point. Thanks in advance.
From: MKB, Framingham
Your son came downstairs to find you crying hysterically? Because you knew your husband would be so angry with him? And actually, you never do say how your son reacts....
There's a lot of information missing here but I think I have enough to say that this sounds like a serious situation that warrants professional intervention because, yes, it can't be healthy for your son to be living in an environment where one parent is a powder keg continually on the verge of explosion and the other is a mass of nerves in anticipation of that explosion. Does your husband acknowledge he has a problem with anger management? Will he go for help? What about couples' counseling, or parent coaching? I can't offer an opinion on whether your son needs counseling as well because you never really talk about him, but it doesn't sound like it could hurt. Have you ever talked to him about his father's anger and about your vulnerability? Because it's not just his dad's anger that is putting him at risk; your response is also a problem.
MKB, your situation does not sound healthy and potentially sounds abusive. It is not normal to cry hysterically because your son's hot shower sets off your husband. Emotional abuse is no less damaging than physical abuse. Both you and your son are victims. I don't know why you stopped your counseling, but I urge you to get help again. There are many hotlines, here, here and here, including sites that are appropriate for your son to read, but you could also ask your pediatrician, clergy or school psychologist for help. Sometimes reaching out is the hardest part. Do it now.
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